Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except two cats and a collection of finches, canaries and Rhode Island bantam hens.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Healesville Sanctuary.

Ken and I spent today at Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary.   We went there today for two reasons, the main one being it was the annual Avicultural Society picnic, and we get a few privileges such as seeing 'behind the scenes' with endangered species, how they prepare food for all the creatures at the Sanctuary, etc.

 The weather turned out glorious, and we were lucky to see a lot of birds that are usually elusive.  The Orange Bellied Parrot and the Helmeted Honey Eater would both be close to extinction without the breeding programs set up by the Sanctuary, and we saw both birds today, which was a real buzz.  Those little birds probably wonder what the fuss is about, they just fly about and enjoy life in their protected habitat…

The koalas are always popular even when they are asleep with their back to the tourists.  But the joey in the second photo was a bonus; he'd only been out of his mother's pouch for a few days, and is so cute!  Until today, I've never seen a baby koala at this age.

This is the Helmeted Honey Eater, the bird emblem of Victoria.  There are only about 60 of these left in the wild.  

The Orange Bellied Parrot is smaller than what I expected, considering that it's annual migration is across Bass Strait to Tasmania.  It is estimated there are about 70 birds that migrate now.

 This is one of the food preparation rooms.  So much variety of fruit, vegetables, seeds, fish and maggots.

The Raptor arena - full of spectators waiting for the daily display.

The eagle landed on the arm of the handler, who was standing right behind us.  I was lucky to get this photo, as birds in flight are amazingly fast, and the eagle settled there for just a few seconds before taking off again.

Male lyrebird disappearing into his bushy aviary.

Red tailed black cockatoo on the arm of a volunteer.  This one had been born and raised at the Sanctuary, so is used to humans.

Young King Parrot perched on Ken's hand, eating the seed in his hand.
 We also visited the Reptile enclosure.  Lots of snakes and lizards..

Brolga in the creek.

I got a lot of photos which look perfect on the camera, but they have turned out pixilated on the computer, it is really annoying.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I know it can be done because I googled it, and saw instructions (which are gobbledy gook to me).  

Work done in our back yard.

We have two sets of steps from the back door to the upper level of our back yard, where the bird aviaries are.  Up till now the steps have been gravel topped, which was slippery at the best of times, so we decided to have them paved, as well as having a paved path in front of the aviaries, as that used to get very muddy in wet weather.
The guy that we hired to do the job ordered way too many paving stones, but he used the extra to replace the old pavers under the clothesline, which were unstable after years of ants nests underneath them.  It has made a big difference, so although I was annoyed at the extra expense incurred at the time, I had to admit it was worthwhile doing.
This photo was taken before the paved path:

And this one is after.  There is still some sand on the surface and it will look better once I've swept the path.

This is one side of the yard now paved.  (The photos are pixilated, sorry)
 And this is the other.

The other thing we've added to the house is this little verandah over the back door step.  Ken has been wanting this for years, although it never worried me, as this is the east side of the house and doesn't get as much rain hammering it as the west side.  But Ken found someone to do it, so he now has his back "porch"..

Saturday, October 04, 2014


Well, it surprised me to get a few emails and queries from people who have read this blog, asking why they couldn't find it any more (I had changed the settings to private blog with no access).  So I have changed it again, but only allowing access to readers who have a account.   And I have to warn you that I still won't be posting as much as I used to.  I'd like to, but it takes up so much time, adding photos to a blog, writing descriptions, writing lengthy posts about life in general and so on, I just want to spend more time on sewing and other craft stuff; reading more books, and getting to bed at a reasonable time instead of after 3am!  So, I'll be back here with some photos of our newly paved back yard, and places we've been recently that might interest some of you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Going into retirement.

Since Ken retired, I am finding less time to mess around here on the computer.  I've also become part of another online forum which takes up an hour or more online most days, so I have decided to put all but two of my blogs into their own retirement.  The blogs which will remain active are Patra's Place of Stitching, and the PNG Quilt Collective.  I won't actually close the other blogs down, as I believe that will do that automatically anyway, if there is no activity on them for a certain amount of time.
To whoever is reading this, thank you for your interest in the past. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

A week later.

So much for my comment last week about Ken's health being stable.  He caught a cold which left him coughing and requiring the usual antibiotics, then I caught it, so that was the week effectively wiped off for us both.  It was so cold outside we were happy to stay in bed or at least inside with the heating on all day.  Pity the solar panels don't supply energy for gas as well as electricity, although we did have the reverse cycle air conditioner on a lot to help warm up the house, so that would have been taken care of by solar energy.

I missed out on a couple of outings with friends, but made up for it by indulging myself in an orgy of reading.  I've started utilising our online library service a lot recently.  When I read reviews of new (or not so new) books that I think I'd like to read, I add their titles to a 'wish list' in my name on the library website.  When I've read a few, I put a few more on hold, and when I've read and returned them, I go back to my list, and so on.  I really appreciate being able to reserve books and have the library email me when the books are there for me to pick up.  Saves trawling through the shelves looking for authors and titles!  I've just discovered another facet of the site; you can add all the books you've read to another list, which is great to refer to if like me, you forget after a while if you've read a certain book, or you want to see what books you've read by a certain author.  I used to write all the fictional books I read in a notebook but now and then I'd forget to do it, and so it was a pretty useless exercise in the end.

Aldi Stores had an Android tablet in their specials this week, for $149, and as Ken has looked over my shoulder enviously when I've been playing around with my Samsung tablet, he had to get one of his own, didn't he.  Ah well, we can afford these little luxuries now, so why not. 

We had an old friend come in and clean up our front and back yard for us this week.  He used to have a tree service business many years ago, but gave it up for something less strenuous.  I noticed an advert in the local paper a few months ago and realised it was the same guy back in the tree business again, so I  called him up to come over and give us a quote.  He and his brother worked all day Monday (his wife also came along and did all the raking and sweeping after trees were pruned), and they worked like trojans.  Several trees and dead shrubs were taken down, more trees pruned of dead branches, and old tree stumps were removed.  Well, actually they were pulverised by a stump removal machine, which left lots of lovely sawdust to spread on the garden.  There was one stump near the aviaries that Ken wanted removed, but after watching them get rid of the other stumps, with all the noise and sawdust flying around, I said no, the birds are traumatised enough already without you doing that right in front of the aviaries, so the guys ended up digging the stump out, much more quietly!  The next day I found the chooks had laid four eggs, so we decided that instead of scaring the shit out of them we'd scared the eggs out of them...ha ha.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five weeks later.

Somebody commented to me the other day that I haven't posted anything to this blog lately.  So I looked, and they were right.  To tell the truth, I had forgotten all about it.  I've posted a few bits and pieces on my stitching blog, but just don't seem to have the same enthusiasm lately.  So for the benefit of whoever might still be keeping an eye on me,  this is a brief rundown of the past month.

I'm still wallowing in the delight of our lovely kitchen.  We now have four new chairs to replace the 50's retro chrome and plastic ones, and we are waiting for a holland blind to be installed.  This replaces the 40 year old curtains that were on the floor to ceiling window.  God I'm glad they are gone....I got to hate them in the last few years!  The windows in the lounge and dining room have the same curtains, and I am looking forward to getting rid of them too, in due course.

The solar panels are connected and generating electricity, and Energy Australia tells us that our next electricity reading should be a quarter of what it has been.  We are getting a tree lopper to come and chop off some branches from some of the larger trees on the west side of the house that overlook the solar panels, and that will increase the amount of sunlight they get.

Ken's finches and canaries are mostly surviving the cold winter, although they've lost many of their babies, but that is to be expected from these birds which are native to a tropical climate in northern Australia.  We're surprised that even the adult birds have survived so well.  The chooks are all feathered up after their long moult in autumn, and are laying enough eggs for our use.  The cats are the cats.  What else does one say about them?

Ken's health is fairly stable.  I am so thankful that he retired in time to avoid being exposed to such  a cold winter, as I think he would have had a lot of time off work otherwise.  He keeps himself occupied with his new car, the bikes (rides on fine days with his mates), looking after the birds, and doing small maintenance stuff around the house.  We have a gardener come every couple of months to mow the lawns, whippersnip edges, and prune shrubs etc. because Ken doesn't have the strength for that now.

Apart from when we go out somewhere together, I spend my time reading, sewing, chatting to friends (mostly on the phone in this weather - it's been too cold to go out for morning/afternoon teas!), and the usual cooking and housework.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

IT'S FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our kitchen is finally all finished - thank goodness, no more dust, paint fumes, stuff piled up around the house, not being able to cook!   We found a painter who lives not far from us, and has a painting business in Preston.  His quote was more expensive than the other three we got, but he was very professional - the three page quote was very detailed, and I said to Ken I don't mind paying more if the job is going to be done properly.
Alan and one of his employees Abdul (we learned they are both from Iran) started work in our kitchen on Monday.  Ken and I had taken everything off the walls and benchtops, and taken down the curtains.  The chook cafe curtains were carefully put aside, but the 40 year old scrim curtains were thrown in a heap out in the yard along with the curtain rods and sun block drapes that were behind the scrim.  I liked them when we first moved into the house, but ended up hating them because they were impossible to wash and very expensive to get dry cleaned!   We have two curtain shops in Eltham, so we will be going there in the next day or two to select some nice curtains in a fabric that I can toss in the washing machine when need be.

Getting back to Alan and Abdul, the whole of  Monday morning was taken up in preparing to paint.  They put plastic over everything - walls and cabinets - everywhere that didn't need painting.  Dropsheets on the floor of course.  Then they started sanding the window frames, which were stained with dark brown, and were to be painted cream.  So the brown had to come off.  One of them did that, and the other stood on a ladder and sanded the ceiling.   The dust and noise was worse than when the old kitchen was being ripped out!   Once they'd done that, they put the first undercoat on the ceiling, and started patching up the walls with plaster.  The walls were in a real mess, with holes in from shelves that had been removed, and years of nail holes from me hanging calendars etc. up.  Ken said NO MORE NAILS!  but I just smiled at him and said "This is MY space, butt out".  LOL!
Here is Alan waving at me among all the mess!  He and Abdul were great - very cheerful, and very hard workers.  See what I mean about the plastic??

Abdul on his knees painting window frames.

Alan had originally stated in his quote that it would take five days, but by Tuesday night, the ceiling, walls and window frames all had two coats of paint.  On Wednesday, Abdul spent the day on finishing touches and cleaning up.  The ceiling is flat white, the walls are "China White" and the window frames were to be white, but Alan showed us a lovely creamy colour that matched the cabinets, so we decided on that instead.  The following are all the photos I took tonight after Abdul had finished for the day and shook hands with us.

 In the above photo you can see the glass splashback.

 Table set for tea with chook placemats.  Our first meal at home in three days!  It was impossible to cook or eat in the kitchen with all the mess before they'd finished, so we went out to dinner with friends on Monday, and down to the Eltham Hotel on Tuesday on our own.

This is the pantry with the doors open to show the adjustable spice racks that I hunted all over for, and finally found in Bunnings in Box Hill.

Sigh....I think I'll just set up a camp bed in the kitchen and spend the rest of my life in here.  Why did I ever think I would regret this renovation?   We are already talking about the bathrooms now!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Kitchen soon to be finished.

The splashback and kickplates are in, the painter is coming next week to paint the ceiling, walls and window frames, and after that we'll choose the curtains, and that will be IT! I'm not taking any more photos until it is completely finished. Ken is already talking about getting the bathrooms fixed up but I begged him to give us a break. Between the kitchen, fences, and solar panels, I am so tired of spending every day at home waiting for tradesmen. These three things aren't finished yet! We need a quote on the fence on the other side of the house, and the same tradie has promised to build a chook run for us. Apart from the painter, the kitchen plumbing still has to be inspected by a government person before they can issue the compliance certificate. The solar panels have been inspected, and now we wait for SPAustnet to install a new meter to measure the solar energy generated, then that will be switched on. In the meantime I've been sewing various items which are on my other blog. I went to the Craft and Quilt show last Sunday and bought some nice fabric. We've had a few friends drop by to check out the kitchen, and we've been out shopping for odds and ends. New chairs for the kitchen, and techno. stuff for the t.v. Don't even ask - I don't go there, it is Ken's baby. I haven't used my Samsung tablet much - just to check emails sometimes in the morning while I'm having breakfast, and if I don't feel like doing anything in particular, I will play Spider Solitaire or Sudoku on it. I had my car serviced today and that cost $300, which included a new tyre. I always feel relieved when the car has been given a clean bill of health by the workshop we use - they are very reliable and honest, and the car really does feel better to drive when it is done. That's my week.

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